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Small pairs out of position


I joined APT to work on my pre-flop strategy and early MTT aggression. I'm a strong player who knows how to play late in tourneys and/or w a small stack but SUCKS playing from ahead, ie big stacked.

The secondary statement is a discussion for another day.

I know a main weakness is calling off w small pairs, including calling 3x bb raises w 22.
Huge leak, I also know I need to get raise more pre. I often have a strategy to 3-bet more often and raise opposed to call. Then find myself limping from early with small pairs (i dump suited connectors) and limping too much in general....A10, J10,etc in early or late.

Do I fold all pairs below 66 in early position? What do I do w 55 in highjack with a 3x bb raise in front of me?


  • highfive

    Dynamic question. I can only answer with a thought process.
    What stage is it?
    What is my stack size? Do i expect callers or 3bets?
    Is it for set value only or do i plan to bluff or barrel?
    What are stacks of in position villans?
    Near the bubble/pay jump?
    Is it necessary to open a bottom range type hand now?
    From HJ
    Is this a set mine?
    If so, do i have the odds?
    Should i 3bet to iso?
    What will i do if i call and get squeezed?
    Many variables to consider. There is no pat answer.
    Just recently i was above average but not large stack. Open folded deuces from MP1.
    General suggestion: have predetermined ranges and adjust to in-game variables/conditions.

  • columbo

    I struggled with this for a long time (trying to build chips in early MTT stages). The issue is that the dynamics work against your strengths when stacks are deep. If you are early (and presumably deep), not sure how you get all those BB's in with small pairs?

    If you decide to play pairs below 66 pre-flop when deep, do you have a plan? With 55 in the hijack, its still a similar question. What is your plan when he leads flop and you don't have a 5? Hang on for dear life? Maybe, but you better have some idea how he plays his range first.

    And when you are deep and he bets 3xBB, is he deep? If he is, a flat might be optimal. If he isn't at least 25 BB deep, how are you going to be profitable calling with 55?

    In these early stages, I like to play solid and profit from others mistakes. There is plenty of tournament for aggression in the middle stages. Others like to fire all guns from the start. When they do that, they typically have a plan for firing barrels. Best to get a feel for their ranges and criteria for firing post flop before doing battle with them. But you are deep and can afford to lean towards caution. Take a flop with 55 and the flop is KT7r and he leads? You don't have to try and run him down even if he is c-betting 100%. But you also cant just look to smash flops to continue. I get that, but if you are losing 30BB+ with 55 and you didnt even raise pre-flop, you are digging your own holes.

    Finally, remember that many players (like myself) play different early, so dont make too many assumptions later when the stacks get closer to 50 BB based on opponents earlier play.

    (I would recommend some of Ed Miller's books/articles on playing deep as an MTT player also.)

  • 1warlock
    edited April 2018

    Unless you are in the SB and it has been folded around to you, never open-limp. Not when short, not when deep, not early, not late (should be a Dr.Seuss book).This is the easiest leak to fix from what you described. As to small pairs, it sounds to me like this is as much a post-flop problem for you as a pre-flop one. If you are only playing them for set value, better to fold them pre-flop and focus on hands that play better. No shame in folding 22-66 from EP, especially once effective stacks dip under 30-40BB.

    Along with the reading material @columbo suggested, Alex Fitzgerald has a very good approach to playing these hands. Super uncomfortable at first but his advice had paid off for me, especially in smaller stakes MTT's. In slightly stronger fields, using these hands to range balance has also worked well. Can't be afraid to fire with them on most flops once you have isolated pre. In all instances, if you are going to play them passively, they are going to be -EV for you.

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